U.S. Chess Mates
                                                                                 From: Deb

Improving Math Performance 1 Move at A Time:

First of all, Math provides the building blocks and foundation that children will  need  throughout  their  lives.  If  
you think that the basics are adding, subtracting,  multiplying and  dividing - think  again!  Today,  we live in an
information  age  where it's reported  that information is doubling at a rate less  than  every  two  years.  The  
basic  skills  need  to  function  in  the workplace  today  are  decision making,  problem  solving,  critical thinking
and  deductive  and  inductive  reasoning  along  with  the  ability  to make judgements  and  good  estimates.  
We  haven't  loved  math  but  we've certainly  loved  our  games.  That's  when  Chess  comes  into the picture.

Chess is a game that requires problem solving. Math requires problem solving, it makes good sense then to
become a good problem solver means you'll do better in math.

Chess  (and other games)  require  a  mental  workout,  thinking  ahead, planning,  being  systematic,  and  
determining  the  outcomes  of certain moves. Chess moves can't be memorized, weakness in math often stems
from  an  over  emphasis  on  memory  skills  instead  of  thinking  skills. Research  studies  have  indicated   that  
students  playing  chess  have improved  problem   solving   skills  over  the  group  that  have  not been involved
in the playing of chess. Ollie LaFreniere, the Washington Chess Federation's statewide Coordinator for
Scholastic Chess, said in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview on May 31, "Chess is the single most powerful
educational tool we have at the moment, and many school administrators are realizing that." There are also
studies that indicate that many students' social habits improved when playing chess.

The late Faneuil Adams (president of the American Chess Foundation (ACF). believed that  chess could enhance
learning, especially for the disadvantaged. He with the ACF founded the Chess in Schools Program which  
initially  began  in  New  York's  Harlem School district. Early in the program, the focus was on improving math
skills for adolescents through improved  critical thinking  and  problem  solving  skills. Remarkably "test scores  
improved  by  17.3%  for  students  regularly  engaged  in  chess classes,  compared  with  only  4.56%  for  
children  participating  in other forms of enriched activities."

The ACF reports that chess improves a Child's:

  •    Visual memory
  •    Attention span
  •    Spatial reasoning skills
  •    Capacity to predict and anticipate consequences
  •    Ability to use criteria to drive decision making and evaluate alternatives


Many  countries  are  following suit. In Canada, a growing number of elementary schools have incorporated chess
into the regular school curriculum. Looking specifically at Quebec, 10 years ago their math scores were the lowest
in the country, Chess became a school subject and now the children in quebec have the highest average math
scores in Canada.

Overcoming Math Phobia through Chess:

Why is it when we ask the majority of people what they think of math or if they're good at math, they immediately
show a look of distaste? Think of what happens when a  group  of  people  are  at a restaurant and the bill comes
on one check instead of on separate checks. Usually, you'll hear 'here, you figure it out,  I  was never  any  good  
at math.' I'm sure you've been in this situation yourself at times. However,  do  they ever say, here you figure it out
- I can't read. When we  take a  look  at why people don't like  math,  we're  told it's because it  makes them feel
stupid, or that they just don't  understand it  because there are too many rules, formulas and procedures to
remember. But, can you think of a situation where there are rules, procedures and such that we enjoy? Games!!!
Perhaps if our math instructors treated math  like  a  game,  more  individuals would excel and would like
mathematics. A more favorable attitude in math leads to better performance. Let chess pave the way to better
math scores and improved problem solving strategies!